Serves 4

In and around my area of London, there is a surprisingly large number of old fruit trees lining the streets, and at this time of year there are always crab apples on the ground. I came across a couple of trees that bore much larger oval fruits and I think they were Toringo crab apple trees. No one seemed to know locally, but they tasted a bit sweeter than normal crab apples and would be perfect for mini toffee apples, which I'm going to make soon. I just grabbed enough to make a purée for this, but I'll be back scrumping on the streets again soon.

Game and fruit are perfect partners, and in addition to crab apples it seemed a shame not to use a few elderberries, which fruited really early this year due to our extreme weather.

If you have crab apples nearby then it's a good idea to make some jelly or sauce to last you through the game season or to serve with roast pork. Likewise with the elderberries; remove them from their stems and pop them in the freezer to throw into sauces or a salad.

Rather like a spatchcocked chicken, this is a nice alternative way of serving partridge.



4 partridges



For the crab apple sauce

A good knob of butter
250g crab apples
2tbsp granulated sugar

For the elderberry sauce

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
A good knob of butter
50ml red wine
50ml port
200ml chicken stock, or half a good quality cube dissolved in that amount of boiling water
100-150g elderberries, removed from their stalks



To make the crab apple sauce, melt the butter in a thick bottomed pan, add the crab apples and cook on a low heat in a covered pan for 3-4 minutes.

Add a tablespoon of the sugar and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often until the crab apples break down.

To make the elderberry sauce, gently cook the shallots in the butter for a couple of minutes until soft, then add the wine and port and simmer until it has almost completely reduced. Then add the chicken stock and simmer until it has reduced to a few tablespoons and thickened. Remove from the heat, add the elderberries and keep warm.

Insert the point of a heavy chopping knife into the cavity of each partridge and cut through the backbone, then flatten the bird with the palm of your hand. Repeat with the other birds.

Preheat a ribbed griddle plate or heavy-bottomed frying pan. Season and lightly oil the birds and cook skin side down first, for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve with the sauces on the plate or separately.

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